France v Nigeria

TEAM NEWS

France coach Didier Deschamps welcomes back midfielder Yohan Cabaye from suspension.

Pitch problems

“No training allowed on the Estadio Nacional pitch ahead of Monday’s France v Nigeria clash. Both teams went off to the nearby Fire Service ground instead. Officials are trying to protect the pitch as much as possible as it is cutting up.”

BBC Sport’s Graham Wellham in Brasilia

Mathieu Valbuena could also return to the starting line-up but defender Mamadou Sakho is doubtful due to a thigh injury.

Nigeria forward Victor Moses missed the Argentina game with a muscular injury and faces a fitness test.

Winger Michael Babatunde is out after his wrist was fractured by a shot from team-mate Ogenyi Onazi.

MATCH PREVIEW

After loose-lipped talk last week by some members of the France squad that they could go all the way and win the World Cup, expectations levels have since been scaled back by the likes of midfielder

Yohan Cabaye, who has wisely warned:

“Confidence shouldn’t become arrogance because that’s when you have problems.”

Brasilia

The France squad trained on a nearby pitch instead of the stadium in Brasilia

The omens, though, look good for Didier Deschamps’ squad as France have reached at least the semi-finals on the last five occasions when they have progressed from the group stage.

Their explosive start to the tournament was tempered slightly by the

goalless draw with Ecuador

in which Deschamps made six changes, but they still ended the group stage having had more shots than any other side.


Argentina goalscorers Lionel Messi (left) and Marcos Rojo (right) celebrate with Angel Di Maria

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World Cup 2014: Nigeria 2-3 Argentina highlights

With their first-choice team back in place, their forward line will take some stopping, with the rejuvenated Karim Benzema a man in form.

Nigeria defied expectations to reach this stage for the first time since 1998 but their preparations for this game have been beset by a

row over bonuses.

It required the intervention of the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, who provided guarantees that the players would be paid.

On the field, winger Ahmed Musa has established himself as one of the breakout stars of this tournament and his electrifying performance against Argentina saw him make history by

becoming the first Nigerian to score twice in one World Cup match.

He

terrorised the Argentine defence

to the extent that their right-back, Pablo Zabaleta, said: “We are lucky to have Messi, Nigeria is lucky to have Musa”.

Coach Stephen Keshi is thrilled with the impact of the 5ft 6in wideman, saying: “I said Messi is from Jupiter, but Musa is from another planet with pace like that.”

They also have a weapon up their sleeve in Vincent Enyeama, who is an expert in repelling French forwards. The Lille goalkeeper went 1,062 minutes without conceding a goal in France’s top flight in 2013-14, just shy of the league record.

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Nigeria won the only previous meeting 1-0 in St Etienne in 2009.
  • France have lost two of their last three World Cup matches against African nations: 2002 v Senegal and 2010 v South Africa. They beat Togo between these two defeats, in 2006.

France

  • France have won their previous three second-round matches at the World Cup: 2-0 v Italy in 1986, 1-0 v Paraguay in 1998 and 3-1 v Spain in 2006.
  • They had 62 attempts at goal in the group stage, more than any other side.
  • On the last five occasions that France have progressed past the first round at the World Cup, they have reached at least the semi-finals (1958, 1982, 1986, 1998 and 2006).
  • Karim Benzema has scored nine goals in his last nine appearances for France, including three in three games at this World Cup.
  • All of France’s goals during this World Cup have come from inside the penalty area.

Nigeria

  • Victory in this match would see Nigeria reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
  • They have only won one of their last 11 World Cup matches.
  • This is the first time two Africans nations (Nigeria and Algeria) have reached the knockout stage.
  • The Super Eagles are aiming to become just the fourth African side to make the quarter-finals after Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.
  • Vincent Enyeama recorded the most saves of any goalkeeper in the group phase (18).
  • Joseph Yobo became the first player to reach 100 international caps for Nigeria against Argentina. If he plays against France he will beat Jay Jay Okocha’s record of nine World Cup matches for the Super Eagles.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/27969976